Abstracts from the "Slavs and their neighbors in the 1 st millenium AD" conference.
Program and abstract book can be downloaded under this link.
Some intriguing abstracts:
Pins with eight-shaped movable links in the Middle Volga region in the 4th–7th centuries and their possible prototypes
Lilia Khalimullina, Leonid Vyazov (Kazan, Russia)
The sedentary population of the Middle Volga region during the Migration Period is represented by a number of closely connected groups, with the Imen’kovo culture and the Middle Volga variety of the Kiev culture (sites of the Sidelkino-Timyashevo type) as the largest ones. The issue of identifying specific elements that could be used as “ethnographic” features is of crucial importance for identifying the origins of their introduction to the region. Metal costume pins are among the few such examples.
The earliest examples of pins in the Middle Volga region come from sites of the 3rd–4th centuries in the Cheremshan River basin where specimens with a loop-shaped head, with and without a round movable link were found. A separate eight-shaped link was found at the fortified site of Lbishche. In the 5th–7th centuries, the type with eight-shaped links was the only type that was widely spread throughout Imen’kovo culture sites. It is worth mentioning that they are not known in the latest Imen’kovo assemblages (later than the beginning of the 7th century).
Pins as an element of costume in the Migration Period are common for cultures associated with the Baltic-speaking population. The easternmost region is the territory of the Moschino culture. Pins without moving links are known here in layers dated from the 5th – mid-7th centuries. As for the Middle Volga pins, the analogies to them were found on 2nd–3rd century Kiev culture sites. Probable prototypes of pins with an eight-shaped link can be found in 3rd-4th century materials from the territory of Belarus, among the examples with a round head with movable ring links. The tradition of wearing pins in the Upper Dnieper and Polesia dates back to the Zarubintsy culture and others of the early Iron Age, which makes this region a very likely source of the tradition of pin use in the east of Eastern Europe.
The emerging parallels provide new data for the discussion of migration processes and cultural relations in Eastern Europe during the Migration period.
The linear and wavy ornamentation on Slavic pottery, its origin and distribution
Boris Yanishevskiy (Moscow, Russia)
While the ornamentation on Slavic ceramics, mainly represented by pots, has several common elements, the paper focusses on the linear and wavy styles of decoration.
Early (handmade) Slavic pottery is practically unornamented, apart from impressions, incisions on the rim or other rare types of imprints. On handmade vessels, ornamentation by means of small multiline cogs or dies, which does not require turning the vessel on a pottery wheel, also appears. Patterns made of separate incised lines, often crossing each other, were also widespread. Linear and wavy ornamentation appeared with the use of a slow pottery wheel. They were made by one wide and sharp or multi-toothed tool. When the Slavs began to use a fast pottery wheel, linear and wavy ornamentation, applied by a multi-toothed, or “comb” tool, remained predominant. This comb tool was used for a long time. In particular, in the Moscow Rus’, belts of comb stamp imprints were applied to jugs up until the 15th–16th centuries.
The origin of this ornamentation has not been fully determined. Linear and wavy patterns can be found on wheel-made vessels of the Late Roman Period in several regions of the Roman Empire, as well as in the Chernyakhov, Przeworsk and other cultures. Stamp impressions, linear and wavy patterns were applied to the pottery of the Limigant culture, made on a slow wheel from the mid-4th century onwards. From the middle of 7th century, such vessels were widely distributed in the Danube region and several related territories (the so-called Danube type). Handmade pottery with linear and wavy ornamentation can be found sporadically among some Slavic groups beginning in the 7th century. In the south of the Slavic world, the fast pottery wheel was used everywhere and by the 8th century these types of ornamentation became predominant. From the 8th–9th centuries onwards, the pottery wheel and the ornamentation in question gradually took roots also in the north-west of the Slavic world. In the Middle Dnieper area, it became widespread from the 9th century onwards, in the southern Oka region by the beginning of the 11th century, and in the northern part of the Volga-Oka interfluves by the end of the 11th century.
Slavic features of the Sarmatian-Limigant archaeological culture
Stanko Trifunovic (Novi Sad, Serbia)
The Sarmatian-Limigant culture’s territorial, chronological and ethnocultural definition is based on extensive archaeological research that has been carried out over the last 25 years in the areas of Bačka and Banat in Serbia, Banat in Romania and in eastern Hungary. Already at the beginning of these investigations, while the culture had not yet been established, some of the typically Slavic characteristics of the settlements were pointed out.
It is now certain that the bearers of this culture lived by means of agriculture and livestock breeding. Referring to Ammianus Marcellinus, it is known that the Sarmatians-Limigants had a strong connection to the country they lived in and to the land they cultivated. Archaeological findings characterise them as a sedentary population, too.
The topographical position and appearance of the settlements correspond to the descriptions given by Procopius for the Slavs in the 6th century, and archaeological data confirm this for settlements of the 3rd–5th centuries in the described area. These are settlements near the water, in different local conditions, but regularly on or near wetlands and separated from each other.
The architecture is dominated by pit houses of various shapes, although there are also ground- level houses. Pit houses are generally characteristic for Slavs, but also for Germans, who also had a sedentary lifestyle. However, some of the pit house types, such as those with a rectangular base and a central post hole, are special. This structure suggests there was a roof with four slopes, which is a typical element of the Kiev culture and which is considered to be genuinely Slavic.
Handmade pottery, made with fireclay as a temper, is a distinctive characteristic of all Slavic cultures of the Roman Era and the Early Middle Ages. Similar cooking ware, almost without decoration, has also been traditionally used by the Sarmatians-Limigants, although they made ceramics on the slow and fast pottery wheel at the same time. Some of the typical forms of the handmade pots have close analogies to the Kiev culture, and some specimens are very reminiscent of later Prague culture vessels.
Pottery made with a slow wheel and tempered with sand and gravel is a distinctive feature of the Sarmatian-Limigant culture. It appeared in the 4th century and was used for as long as the culture existed. This pottery was incised with a comb-made decoration, which is characteristic of all Slavic cultures in the Middle Ages.
The half-sunken dwelling with a central post – the link between the southeast of the Pannonian Plain and the Kiev culture?
Ivana Pašić, Stanko Trifunović, Milan Zekovic (Novi Sad / Belgrade, Serbia)
The settlements of the Late Antique period, which belong to the Sarmatian-Limigant culture, are very numerous in the eastern part of the Pannonian plain. This is especially documented by archeological investigations at Banat and Bačka, in present-day Serbia, Romania and Hungary. In the settlements that have been archaeologically investigated on these territories, one of the most common dwellings is a quadratic, half-sunken dwelling, measuring approximately 3 x 3 m to 4 x 4 m, with a central main post. The central post is a sign of the presence of a roof with four slopes. Elongated, rectangular houses of a size up to 6 x 5 m, with two central posts, can be seen as variants of this dwelling type.
The oldest examples of such houses come from settlements that can be dated to the end of the 2nd – beginning of the 3rd centuries AD. Mapping the dwellings of this type in central and Eastern Europe shows their distribution in relation to archaeological cultures and enables us to look for their origin. They are certainly one of the main features of the Kiev culture of the Dnieper region. The appearance of such half-sunken dwellings in Pannonia in Roman times could perhaps be interpreted as a result of migrations from that area to Pannonia.
Recent data show that, in pre-Roman cultures in Pannonia and other areas, similar house types are very rare, so the origin must remain uncertain so far. The rarity of such half-sunken dwellings in the area of Bačka and Banat later, in the early Middle Ages, opens up further questions that can be reduced to one basic question: is the half-sunken house with four roof slopes just a common house type or does it represent a characteristic archaeological feature of Late Antique and early medieval cultures that can be used to understand the process of Slavic ethnogenesis in Europe?
An Early Slavic dwelling type
Stanko Trifunović (Novi Sad, Serbia), Alexey Furasyev (Saint Petersburg, Russia)
The Slavic housebuilding tradition of the early Middle Ages is quite homogeneous and is represented primarily by rectangular half-sunken dwellings (or dwellings with a deepened floor) of log or pillar construction. However, on a number of sites of the third quarter of the 1st millennium AD other, rather rare, types of residential buildings have been noted. One of these varieties consists of rectangular dwellings at ground level, most likely log constructions, with an oval depression in the centre. The deepened part most probably served as a cellar cavity under the floor, and it occupied most of the building’s area. The depression has sloping, narrowing downwards, side walls and an uneven bottom, and the remains of disturbed heating constructions – hearths – are usually documented in the filling of these cavities. The dimensions of the dwellings are about 2-2.5 m x 3.5-4 m, and the depth of the depression is up to 0.4-0.6 m from the main floor level.
This building type does not have a stable tradition within the framework of any archaeological cultures of Eastern Europe, even though it is represented sporadically at several 5th–7th century sites from the Middle Dnieper to the Western Dvina basin (at Penkovka, Prague and Tushemlya culture sites). What are the origins of this house-building type? In the 3rd–5th century Dnieper region settlements, this type of dwelling is unknown. Oval, sunken buildings that are known from the Kiev culture of the Dnieper Left Bank can be said to be vaguely similar; however, significant differences are the even bottom and the absence of hearths. Nevertheless, this building type is very typical for sites of the Sukow-Dziedzice group in the northwest of the early Slavic world. This is one of the arguments for a Vistula – Oder origin of the Slavs (or at least of a part of them). But the relationship between such sites and building types on the territory of Poland (Szeligi, for example, and others) and the preceding archaeological remains in these areas are unclear.
Meanwhile, dwellings of this type are well known in the settlements of the so-called “Sarmatians-Limigants” culture in the Serbian Danube and Tisza regions. The buildings in question have a size of 3-4 m x 5-6 m, and the characteristic cavity has a depth ranging from 1.5 to 3 m under the modern surface. It is argued that a high amount of daub and ashes, as well as the remains of the household inventory in the filling, indicate that the position of the dwelling construction was at ground level. It seems that after the burning of such dwellings, the entire construction and contents of the dwelling would fall into the cavity, although it remains unclear whether there was a hearth in the buildings or not. These dwellings are generally dated from the 4th century to the mid-5th century. Among the ceramic finds, there are also handmade pots that have direct analogies to the pottery of the Kiev culture in the Dnieper region.